Agents Can Challenge U.S. Deferred Deportation Plan

Ten U.S. immigration officers won a court ruling allowing them to challenge an Obama administration directive that lets some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children avoid deportation.

President Barack Obama in June announced the U.S. policy change under which undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before age 16 can remain if they have no criminal record and meet other criteria.

The agents sued in August, asserting the “deferred action” directive violates U.S. law, and that carrying out the directive would compel them to violate their oaths while failing to do so could subject them to job discipline.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Dallas ruled the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents had legal standing to pursue most of their claims.

“The court finds that the potential disciplinary action that results from failing to comply with the directive,” and a related prosecutorial-discretion memorandum issued by ICE Director John Morton, “constitutes sufficient injury in fact.”

In a separate order issued today, O’Connor said he wants to hold a hearing on the agents’ bid for a preliminary order blocking the measure and directed attorneys from both sides to collaborate on a report due Feb. 1 containing proposed hearing dates, witness lists for each side and estimates of how much time they need to present their cases.

The U.S. Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

Mississippi Dismissed

In the ruling, O’Connor dismissed a claim filed by the state of Mississippi, ruling that its alleged fiscal injury caused by the policy change is “purely speculative.”

“There is no concrete evidence that costs associated with the presence of illegal aliens in the state of Mississippi have increased or will increase as a result of the directive or the Morton Memorandum,” the judge wrote. Still, he said the state could re-file later.

O’Connor also provisionally dismissed the ICE agents’ challenge to that part of the directive allowing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to decide who, among those qualifying for deferred action, are eligible for work authorization.

The case is Crane v. Napolitano, 3:12-cv-03247, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

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